Operation not so Live

Candid television shots of a real birth on Seven’s Operation Live drew emotional reactions on social media last night.

The birth of baby Elijah to Erine & James under the hand of obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr. Steven Tan at Mater Hospital drew much praise:

But others were confused about whether it was happening Live to Air. It was not.

Seven originally promoted the event as Live “every step of the way” in keeping with the UK production. But the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons strongly objected to a Live broadcast suggesting the show be pre-recorded and edited in case anything goes wrong or it distracts the surgical team.

Last week Seven confirmed the second Live heart operation would be put “on hold.”

Plans for a Live caesarean were also switched to pre-recorded. Yesterday’s operation took place in the afternoon, with no “Live” stamp on screen. Instead viewers noticed a clock indicating 2:20pm.

In 2015 National Geographic aired the first-ever Live brain surgery on Australian television.

TV Tonight has contacted Seven over its claims the production would air Live to Air.


  1. If the RCAS prevented the program from airing live, then Seven should have stated that at the head of the program. They did not. Seven deliberately aired it under the guise that it was live when there was a seven hour delay on it. Almost grounds for a legal campaign. It is dishonest, it is cheating and they should be accountable for covering it up.

  2. I couldn’t see how the RCAS or a respectable hospital would ever allow it. Putting peoples lives at risk just so that Seven’s shareholders can make more money is just wrong. Do you want your surgeon and the team worried about their live TV performance or the operation?

  3. Cmon guys is anyone surprised? So glad it tanked. All those weeks of promos by a surgeon insisting it would be live. Either someone stuffed up or they thought that no one would notice.

  4. I think everyone needs to take a chill pill here.

    Imagine this, it’s live to air and then there is a problem with the baby and they need to do an emergency caesarean. Or even worse the baby dies during delivery. Would you want the birth of your dead child broadcast live around the country? would you want to see two parents devastated by the lose? Everyone would be up in arms if Seven was live and broadcast something like that.

    Also, from what I know about births, they never or rarely go to plan and it’s kinda up to the baby when it’s ready to be born. A birth could go for up to 3 days, Personally I think it would be almost impossible to do a live birth on live tv.

    So calm down, at the end of the day you all got to witness the birth of another human being. that’s pretty awesome

      • I agree the title of the show was misleading as were the promos. If it was a packet, you could take it back and get a refund. I know it is free TV, but people didn’t get what they were expecting. (I didn’t watch it and it didn’t appeal to me)

    • Choosing an elective caesarean removes a lot of the timetable being “up to the baby”. The chances of something very serious going wrong were very small, however I agree that that if it did it would be devastating for a personal tragedy to be telecast. On the other hand, this couple agreed to the broadcast, presumably got paid for it, so they need to have considered all that in advance. Pity the baby (and sibling) were unable to give informed consent.

      This was a triumph of promotion for Ch 7. Otherwise, you can get the same (or better) experience watching “One born every minute”, and a lot more reality about birth. This really wasn’t about birth but about surgical technique.

    • OK, a cesarean delivery doesn’t take “up to 3 days”, “you all got to witness the birth of another human being. that’s pretty awesome”, just like quite a number of other shows such as “One Born Every Minute”. “almost impossible to do a live birth on live tv” – but that’s exactly the point. Seven was flogging this, even during the program, as being “live”. It wasn’t. It was fakery on the part of Seven.

      • I never said a C section could take 3 days, I was talking about a natural birth. Labour can last for hours or even days. It’s impossible to go “live to air”

        and yes, Seven should have been upfront with this and said that it was planned to be live, but Doctors suggested that it not be. If it was live to air, it might still be live on the air lol

  5. Can’t understand why anyone would want to watch something like this live or otherwise. Guess had it been live they’d have probably paused the surgery everytime they went to commercials.

  6. Terrible production. YouTube far better for pre-birth education, as suggested by our gynecologist prior to first daughter’s birth. Switched off before the end. So clearly prerecorded and edited (badly). Wife wants to know where is this hospital that allows surgery patients to wear full makeup and false eyelashes. The clocks & watches were the giveaways. Switched over to 10-something just in time to see another cesarean being performed by Morgan Freeman in Sherwood Forest. No dangerous epidural. Just “here, bite on this stick”.

    • That’s a pretty cynical take on the show. There was a lot to love about it and the tsunami of support on social media showed the audience engaged and enjoyed it.

      • It was nothing different to the multitude of birth shows already aired elsewhere. “A Baby Story” & “One Born Every Minute”.
        “the audience (may have) engaged and enjoyed it” but it was not what Seven sold it as – “live”. Seven continues their fake “live” sales pitch. Like their “live” news crosses where the closed captions are way ahead of the reporter’s spiel.

  7. What a joke. You promise one thing and deliver another.
    Seven is in serious trouble it if doesn’t know it cannot broadcast live as promoted.
    Who stuffed this basic check list up – perhaps ITV can “please explain” ?
    I hope the production company won’t be charging full freight for this cock up.

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